ecology, reflection, and closing with the River Otters
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practicing stealth and balance
patiently listening to the rules

River Otter review: 12/19/14

a season of good friendships 

The Game of Ecology

What a smashing final day!

It was warm and sunny the majority of the day, a blessing, especially with some of the cold windy days we’ve been experiencing.

 Last week, we completed our focus on the four elements of survival: Fire, Shelter, Water and Food. This week, we celebrated our time together, decorated our hand-made bamboo water bottles and reveled in companionship and games.

This morning, Clint led the rumpus with final rounds of favorite games Foxtails and Fire in the Forest, while I put the final touches on a story for morning circle time.

When we shared what we were grateful for at morning circle, the most commonly shared sentiments were “I’m grateful that I get to be here with all of you” and “Grateful for Forest Floor” and “I’m grateful I get to come here.” It was so sweet to hear the kids’ appreciation of the program and continued enthusiasm.

 

The morning story included a treasure map, some characters both old and new, and some challenges demonstrating growth and readiness. The story led into the first activity, a game of agility and teamwork called Jays and Oven Birds. Jays and Oven Birds is an ecology teaching game, which simultaneously heightens awareness and strategy. The pairs of Oven Birds must work together to outsmart the wily Jays and fill their nests with “eggs” the Jays are also seeking. Both Jays and Oven Birds must pay close attention to the movements of their fellow birds, all while avoiding getting tagged and “eaten” by the Sharp Shinned Hawk.


 

By the mid-point of the game, all the “birds” are “flying” through the forest with awareness and agility to rival their avian counterparts, diving and outwitting each other in the constant balancing act of nature of which we are all a part. We added an extra challenge element in which each team had to complete small tasks to demonstrate their survival know-how before receiving each coveted egg. Additionally, found pieces of a treasure map lead us to a hidden stash of treasure: Forest Floor t-shirts and acorn flour cookies from Osker and Amber of Glorious Forest Farm!

 

We took some time in the afternoon for optional water bottle decoration. We experimented with decoration techniques from smoke smudging and clay to markers and carving. Ample free time took many forms: tree climbing, trap making, and toasting marshmallows over the fire.

A moment of silent reflection, then sharing favorite moments from our survival challenges closed out our day. Our traditional thundering charge down the mountain was followed by a group photo and rejoining families at pickup.

 

One thing that stands out to me about this group is the tight sense of camaraderie that developed over the course of the season and the true affection the children have for one another. Yes, there are the unavoidable moments of friction and upset among group members, but caring and enjoyment of one another’s company far outshines these rougher spots. Our group of River Otters has shown us joy, enthusiasm, and wild abandon to play. They have shared with us their silly faces, serious moments, and lots of dirty shoes, socks, pants, hands and faces. We bid goodbye for a while with the scent of wood smoke still lingering in our hair and charcoal smudged on our faces. We trust it won’t be too long before we are reunited and embarking on new adventures together in this incredible forest.

 

Thank you for enrolling your radically fantastic children, bringing them to us every week and doing what it takes to make this work and these connections happen. We at Forest Floor are so grateful and see the real ways in which your kids are benefitting from your dedication and love.

Deep gratitude,

Robin and Clint

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